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How to Play: Machi Koro

How to Play Machi Koro

Machi Koro is a city building game by IDW Games, where you take on the role as mayor and try to develop your settlement into the biggest city in the region. You will compete against one to three other mayors with the same objective. However, you will each start with a tiny settlement that has only a wheat field and a bakery.

Machi Koro Contents

  • Starting Cards - There are 24 Starting Cards in the deck including eight Starting Establishments and 16 Starting Landmarks.
  • Supply Cards - There are 84 Supply Cards including seventy-two Establishments and twelve Major Establishments.
  • Coins - There are 42 coins valued at one, 24 coins valued at five, and 10 coins valued at 10.
  • Dice - There are two. One blue die and one green.

Machi Koro Set-up

Begin the game by setting up two Establishment cards (the aforementioned Wheat Field and Bakery) face-up in front of you. You will also place four unique Landmark cards face-down (with the Under Construction sides showing). The four unique cards are: Train Station, Shopping Mall, Amusement Park, and Radio Tower.

You win the game by being the first to build all four landmarks. This forms your starting area. Return any excess cards to the box. However, in a four-player game you should have no unused cards. Give each player three coins and use the remaining coins to create a stash or bank. You will use this bank as you start to earn income.

Finally, use the Supply Cards to create a marketplace. Group all cards of the same type and stack them in order according to the value at the top of each card (this is known as the "Activation Number"). You are now ready to begin playing!

Machi Koro Gameplay

At first, you will roll a single die on your turn. But once you have built your Train Station you may roll both dice and sum the results on your turn.

Earn Income

You will earn income based on the results of your rolls and what Establishments you own. It is also possible to earn income depending on other players' rolls and cards played. Depending on the type of Establishment you have played you can earn income four ways:

  1. Primary Industry - You earn income from these blue Establishment cards during anyone's turn.
  2. Secondary Industry - You only earn income from these green Establishment cards during your turn.
  3. Restaurants - You get to take coins from the player who rolled the dice this turn (if he or she rolled a number or sum that matches your restaurant's Activation Number). Restaurant cards are always red.
  4. Major Establishment - These cards are purple. You earn income from all other players during your turn only.

It is possible to earn income from multiple types of Establishments in a single turn. If more than one card is activated in a given turn you should resolve them in this order:

  1. Restaurants.
  2. Secondary and Primary Industries.
  3. Major Establishments.

In the example above is one of each type of card. The number in the lower left represents the cost to construct the Establishment (which is explained in the next phase). The top number is the Activation Number. The text tells you what happens when a player rolls a number equal to the Activation number. So, regardless of whose turn it is, if a roll equals two and you have constructed a Ranch you will get one coin from the Bank (supply).

Take a look at the Bakery. You only earn income on your turn with this Secondary Industry card. However, if you rolled a two and had both the Bakery and the Ranch you would earn a total of two income. So, as stated before, you can earn income from multiple cards depending on what you have played and whose turn it is.

Consequently, multiple revenue streams is the key to success in Machi Koro.


Finally, to conclude your turn you may pay to either construct an Establishment or to finish construction on a Landmark. You cannot do both during this phase. You can find the cost of an Establishment card displayed on the lower left corner. As long as you have enough coins to pay this cost you can construct or finish the construction, depending on which action you select.

If you construct an Establishment, remove it from the marketplace and then place it in your area. You may now enjoy the benefits of this card beginning with the start of the next player's turn. If you construct a Landmark, turn it over to the full-colour side. As with the Establishment cards, you do not gain the benefits of Landmarks until the start of the next player's turn.

There is a small caveat to call out on the Major Establishment (purple) cards. There are three types of Major Establishments: a TV Station, a Stadium, and a Business Center. A player may only build one of each of these Major Establishments. Otherwise, you may build as many of a given Establishment as you can afford. You never know, it may actually be a good strategy to focus on a few types of Establishments.

Game End

I didn't specifically call it out previously, but gameplay proceeds in the typical clockwise fashion until a player has finally completed all four Landmarks. These cards can be completed in any order. The first to complete all four Landmarks is the winner. You can expect Machi Koro to take about 30 minutes.

And that's it. This is a pretty short "How to Play Article," but the game is that straight-forward. Consequently, it is a wonderful game to use as a gateway to the hobby or to introduce to children.